Harold’s Blog: Crabtree Crossing, Smart Cities Grant and More

Cary, NC – This was a slower than average week for me.

Monday – Planning for the Week

Monday started with my weekly town manager one-on-one meeting. We talked about a variety of topics including having an additional neighborhood meeting to hear concerns from the residents near the Penny Road Kildaire Farm Road gas station proposal. We also talked about an issue with some faulty town’s water meters in town. The cost and replacement of those meters will be covered by the manufacturer. The Green Level Church Road widening was also discussed. NCDOT would like to do the entire set of improvements rather than the ones they have planned. So we will probably enter this as a LAPP (locally administered project program) project. Other topics included the upcoming Cary/Morrisville joint meeting, an update Fenton development agreement process, the Glenaire rezoning proposal, and the approved gas station near Weldon Ridge School sites which is upsetting citizens.

Later I attended the Real Health Experience: Make Fit Happen seminar held at the Cary Arts Center by Dr. Livingood. He and I briefly talked about fitness in the community before the audience.

Tuesday – Crabtree Crossing in Morrisville

Tuesday I met with representatives of concerned citizens potentially impacted by the potential connection of Crabtree Crossing in Morrisville. Their first concern was the extension of the Triangle Parkway (highway 147) as part of the connection to Crabtree Crossing. Currently the preferred route is to tee Crabtree Crossing into Davis Drive but they are afraid the preferred route might change. The second and biggest concern was the connection of Morrisville’s Town Hall Drive to Crabtree Crossing. This would create a parallel route to highway 54 and have a significant negative impact on those living along and adjacent to Crabtree Crossing.

Arguments for the connection seem to be championed by developers who have said that Morrisville’s ability to create a downtown would be ruined without the connection. In addition, some council members have stated that they are concerned about 911 response times and the connection would help that issue. It is likely the Morrisville council will vote whether or not to put a connection on their transportation plan in the next few months. The good news for those that oppose is that this connection would not score well for state and federal funds and would likely have to be funded by Morrisville. That would include bridging over a sensitive wetland area. So unless there are drastic changes I don’t see the connection in my lifetime. However, that doesn’t mean people won’t suffer if it remains on the plan. We will see how this continues to play out in the coming months. It may turn out to be a campaign issue in the Morrisville municipal elections next year as opposition gets more organized.

Wednesday – Cary Economic Development

Wednesday I participated in a meeting of the Economic Development Committee. Our agenda had two topics. The first topic was about our branding initiative. The final two branding consultants have been invited to Cary to give a presentation to the Economic Development Committee and to talk with town council members. Their presentation will be about their thoughts of Cary as a city or a town. And they are not allowed to talk with Cary residents. This is an exercise that could go in a thousand different directions. It will be interesting to see what they come up with. These presentations will be on Tuesday the 13th and 20th to the Economic Development Committee followed by a reception with council members and staff. A decision on the consultant will be made later this spring.

Our second topic was the first quarterly update presented by the new Vice President of Economic Development, Evan Stone. First he spent time talking to us about his background and his strategy in his new role. This includes visiting current businesses to see if they are happy and if they would be willing to help in our recruitment of other businesses. In his update he mentioned that 78% of companies in our area will be adding jobs in the next three years. He believes this equates to about 35,000 jobs. He spent time talking about the talent pool and the problems some employers are having with millennials not having the necessary soft skills. As a result some companies will be looking at mentoring programs. Our meeting concluded in less than an hour.

Sunday – Basant Bahar

Sunday I attend the Basant Bahar celebrations at the Cary Arts Center. It is a celebration of the advent of spring and is one of the signature events that Hum Sub brings to the Triangle. Basant Bahar showcases the best of Indian culture with music and dance that has stood the test of time, holding its own against the buffeting winds of change. We were all treated to extraordinary performances from all age groups.

Smart Cities Grant

This week it was announced that Cary was among the five national award winners for the 2018 Readiness Challenge Grants for Smart Cities.  “The five winners had three important things in common,” explained Smart Cities Council Chairman Jesse Berst, “including a focus on uncovering synergies and cost-efficiencies between departments. They also fostered coordinated collaboration between internal departments, external stakeholders and nearby regions. Finally, they exhibited a determination to include underserved and vulnerable populations.” The judges were impressed by Cary’s efforts on smart parking, mobility and street lighting, as well as the city’s efforts to create “Destination Centers” in underserved neighborhoods to encourage jobs and housing.

Cary will use the Council’s Readiness Workshop to further advance several of its projects, including “One Cary.” This initiative seeks to gain a 360-degree view of the city by creating a single core platform to promote data sharing between departments and with citizens. Congratulations to all those involved in helping Cary get this grant.

Town Manager’s Report

The town manager’s report for this week included:

Bloomberg Facilitator On-Site for Idea Workshop

Mark Jones, a Bloomberg Philanthropy project facilitator, conducted a workshop on Monday and Tuesday of this week with the core project team and Mayor Pro Tem Bush to help focus and strengthen our project concepts and assumptions associated with measuring opioids in small, geo-localized areas. Much of the discussion centered around the processes necessary to ensure the creation of a repeatable and reliable testing protocol and then the development of sharable, actionable and useful dataset for our public health partners. Another workshop will take place in New York City with the other 34 Champion Cities to begin a small scale six-month testing phase to improve our idea. Final proposals for the grand prizes are due in August with an announcement scheduled for October 2018.

Branding Finalists Visit March 13

This coming Tuesday marks another exciting milestone in our Community Branding Initiative as we host Bigfish Creative Group for their presentation to your Economic Development Committee at 3:30 p.m. The presentation will be followed at 5 p.m. by a reception for the firm at the Mayton for the full Council, the EDC, and members of your Information Services Advisory Board. Our second finalist, North Star Destination Strategies, will be here on March 20th with the same itinerary. Both groups’ RFQ responses are available on the project webpage.

Kite Festival Draws Record Crowd 

The annual kite festival was a huge success with the largest attendance ever. An estimated 5,000 people attended the event, up from the expected 1,200. Prizes were awarded in a variety of categories including best crash, smallest kite, highest flying and more. Thanks to the Cary Police, Public Works Special Events Crew and PRCR staff for all their help in making this year’s event a success!

Cary Awarded Readiness Grant

The Smart Cities Council has announced that Cary is a recipient of the 2018 Readiness Challenge Grant and will now receive mentoring for a year as well as tailored products and services to accelerate our smart city initiatives. Cary’s grant focuses on smart parking, mobility and street lighting. Congratulations to the team!

Economic Development Update

Evan Stone, Vice President of Economic Development with the Cary Chamber was introduced to the EDC members at its meeting on Wednesday. Evan presented his economic development philosophy:

  • Focus on existing business: these companies are our best ambassadors and we and we want to make sure they have what they need to continue growing in our community.
  • Recruit new business and industry, including developing relationships with site selection consultants.
  • Product development (and redevelopment)

Since his arrival, Evan has scheduled ongoing meetings with town staff, met with several large companies (and scheduled more) and had discussions with the Sports Alliance.

Utility Development Fee Study

In 2017 new requirements for utility development fees were established by the NC General Assembly in HB 436. Under this new law, to maintain our authority to levy development fees the Town was required to hire a consultant to conduct a new fee study. The new study is in final draft form. The law requires that the study be posted on the Town’s website to solicit comments for at least 45 days. The consultant must consider the public comments for possible adjustments to the calculated fees. Once the study is finalized after the initial public comment period, Council must hold a public hearing before considering adoption of the analysis. Council cannot adopt a fee that is higher than the fee calculated in the study. Staff plans to post the study on the Town’s website on March 19 so that Council may hold the public hearing and consider the study results in concert with the FY19 budget process. This process must be repeated at least every five years.

Cary Speaks Around Town

Emily Barrett spoke at the UNC Clean Tech Summit on March 1st in the Smart and Healthy Cities track. She spoke on a panel on electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and policy providing a municipal perspective on EV infrastructure including the benefits of partnering to install charging stations in public locations through grants and public investment.

Additionally, Terry Yates and Reid Serozi presented at NC Open Pass 2018 at NC State University. Topics covered were Cary’s Open Data and Smart City Efforts.

Town’s Request for County Hospitality Funding

Deputy Town Manager, Russ Overton, along with staff from PRCR and T&F presented to Wake County’s evaluation team regarding the Town’s request for funding to upgrade the stadium lights at WakeMed Soccer Park as well as the lighting and sound system at Koka Booth Amphitheatre. The grant request was for the County’s Hospitality Tax Small Projects Grant. With only $3.5 million available, the County received a total of 10 proposals totaling over $11 million.

Follow-Up With Wessex Area Citizens

At last month’s Council meeting, some citizens from Wessex area expressed concerns about their water pressure. Staff observed the pressures and found that the system is operating as expected, with pressure over 100 psi throughout the day and during peak demands. Staff followed up with the property owners and in each case found that the low pressures experienced at the residences were attributed to a pressure reducing valve at the meter.

Wake Tech Community News

The newly christened Martha Mann Smith School of Nursing in Raleigh was announced Wednesday at Wake Tech Ignite. Wake Tech Foundation Executive Director Matt Smith and Wake President Dr. Stephen Scott introduced folks who shared personal stories about the incredible programs at Wake Tech Community College. Danna Widmar attended the lunch, which included moving personal accounts of success despite adversity, as well as accounts from businesses and organizations that depend on the many excellent programs including nursing, culinary arts, information technology and fire service.

Recognitions

We’d like to recognize the efforts of Judy Newsome and Laura Morton for leading ADA training sessions for GoCary drivers and call center staff. A variety of topics were discussed, including effective communication, passenger safety, and accommodations for persons with particular disabilities. This training will better serve our passengers with special needs. Thank you Judy and Laura!

Emails From Citizens

Emails from citizens this week included:

  • Complaints about the proposed gas station at Kildaire and Penny.
  • Request to rescind a building permit for the gas station in Amberly (no authority to rescind permits)
  • Request to pass legislation on gun violence (no authority)
  • Concern about traffic for the Harrison Avenue hotels proposal

Next week’s activities will include a visit to Carpenter Elementary, a joint meeting with the Morrisville council, a meeting with the branding consultant, a meeting with the Consul General of Mexico, a State of the Town address, the town’s Arbor Day event, and my attempt to run my first half marathon.

Get In Touch

Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, March 18th.  Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to augustanat@mindspring.com.


From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photos courtesy of Harold Weinbrecht and Hal Goodtree.

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16 replies
  1. johnny jones
    johnny jones says:

    Mayor, I have no horse in this race but have to say you’ve been just as combative. If need be, in a concise bullet point format lay out your counterpoints & invite the gentleman to continue the conversation offline if there is further disagreement.

    This is unbecoming to your office.

    • Harold Weinbrecht
      Harold Weinbrecht says:

      Mr. Jones,

      My sincerest apologies to you and anyone else I have offended. My purpose of providing a journal is to present information to those that are interested. My goal in responding is to correct any misinformation and answer questions. My responses never meant to be combative. As a result, I will sign off on this thread.

      Thanks,
      Harold

      • Johnny Jones
        Johnny Jones says:

        BTW, tremendous fan of what you and the council has done with both the Fenton & IKEA developments. Generations to come will benefit from these projects.

  2. Harold Weinbrecht
    Harold Weinbrecht says:

    Mr. Butler,

    Calling what someone does “stupid” IS name calling. You should be more careful with your words. And as I said act like an adult and have a civil conversation.
    Thanks,
    Harold

      • Harold Weinbrecht
        Harold Weinbrecht says:

        Mr. Butler TGO,

        You seemed to have come to the conclusion that you know more about traffic, response times, and Cary than I do. So that means this is no longer a productive conversation. Thanks and enjoy Morrisville.

        Harold

      • Bob Butler TGO
        Bob Butler TGO says:

        Dear Mr Mayor,
        I didn’t realize that your horse was so high. You are right. I don’t know as much about traffic as you. And I especially don’t know the traffic pattern of a road not yet built. I genuflect to your expertise in that regard.

        Another thing I don’t know about is the response time to 911 calls. I didn’t know that if Morrisville Fire/Police Department received a 911 call from, say, Park West, that if Morrisville uses Cary’s 911 call center the bottlenecked intersection at Morrisville Carpenter and Chapel Hill Rd would miraculously clear to allow for immediate passage. Maybe you should let our town Council know this.

        I’m sorry that logic has escaped your years of public service.

        Thanks and enjoy Cary.
        Bob Butler

      • Harold Weinbrecht
        Harold Weinbrecht says:

        Mr. Butler,

        Despite your divisive and combative nature I will point out that emergency vehicles do have a preemptive device that allows a green light when they approach.

        Morrisville’s 911 calls are handled by Wake County. It would be much more efficient to use Cary and save time.

        BTW, despite the approval or disapproval of the connection it is likely that it will not be built in our lifetimes because it would require Morrisville funding which is highly unlikely due to the cost.

        Hope this clears up your confusion. Peace be with you.

        Thanks,
        Harold

  3. Bob Butler TGO
    Bob Butler TGO says:

    It is peculiar that the mayor of Cary would comment on a road project that is in Morrisville. Obviously the moneyed crowd in the Prestonwood part of Morrisville have gotten to him.
    He states that the Crabtree Crossing extension would negatively impact people along the extension in Morrisville, not Cary. The impact would, in fact, be minimal to a small number of Morrisville residents. The positive impact would be great to a large number of residents. It would take pressure off of Chapel Hill Rd./ SR54 and the bottleneck on Morrisville Carpenter Rd and SR54. He also mentions the safety concerns in response times to 911 calls. Yet the mayor seems to dismiss the concern. He never mentions how Cary’s approval of 355 homes on Morrisville Carpenter Rd. would have a huge impact to great deal of Morrisville by adding to that same bottleneck at SR54.
    He also states that the people who are championing the extension are developers who are eyeing the town center project. If the mayor would look to the history of the extension project he would learn that the extension was voted on, in a bond issue, in 2004/2005. The citizens voted for the extension. That project was shelved by political pressure exerted by the same moneyed interests that apparently have the ear of the mayor.
    The mayor of Cary getting into a political fight about a project that doesn’t concern Cary is curious.

    • Harold Weinbrecht
      Harold Weinbrecht says:

      Mr. Butler,

      Almost all of your comments about me are false or misleading. It appears you are continuing your character assassination attempt you started a couple of years ago with the golf course issue telling countless lies and spending thousands of dollars spreading those lies. Can you please move past whatever is bothering you about me? If you have a personal issue with me please confront me, call me, talk to me, etc. The divisiveness you spread is the disease crippling this country. We should be able to talk about disagreements without having to hear the negative garbage you are spreading. It is only through mutual understand and respect that we can reach our potential as a community and a region. Let’s work together to solve issues not create wedges. As a one-time business owner I would suspect you already know this is true.

      On this issue, a Crabtree Crossing connection will impact both Cary and Morrisville residents. Anyone who thinks this will help traffic on Highway 54 is sorely mistaken. Keep in mind this region will double in size within the next 30 to 40 years. Any relief will be short lived. In fact, I predict highway 54 and Crabtree Crossing will both be filled within a year or two of connection. The end result is that a neighborhood will be ruined. That I care about whether it is in Cary or Morrisville. It is short sighted BAD policy. While connectivity is often times a good thing, in certain cases it can have permanent detrimental impacts. I believe this is certainly one of those cases.

      Thanks for reading my blog.

      Harold

      • Bob Butler TGO
        Bob Butler TGO says:

        Mr. Weinbrecht,
        There are/were two Bob Butler’s in Morrisville. I am not the Bob Butler with the golf course issue. The people who are against the Crabtree Crossing extention are allies of the other Bob Butler. I did not attack you, just the fact that it is a Morrisville issue. What neighborhood would be ruined? You didn’t, however, address the 911 response time issue or the 355 homes that Cary has OKed on Morrisville Carpenter that will definitely impact Morrisville traffic.

      • Harold Weinbrecht
        Harold Weinbrecht says:

        Mr. Butler,

        911 response times are most impacted by the location of the first responders and the 911 call center. Morrisville can immediately improve their response times by changing their 911 center. Currently, the calls go to the Wake County center and then back to Morrisville. They would be better off partnering with Cary.

        Development in and around Morrisville is another issue. Cary council members spend a great amount of time evaluating each and every proposal. And for the most part follow the plans that have been laid out for years. I would invite you to watch one of our council meetings to see what I am talking about.

        Please understand that development will occur whether you like it or not. This region, especially Morrisville will have significantly impacted by pass through traffic not only from Cary but from all surrounding communities. AND this area will double in population within the next few decades. Unfortunately, the major roads (such as the one you mentioned) are a responsibility of the state not Cary. And the state is always in a reactionary mode and doesn’t keep up with development even though plans have existed for years.

        I hope that answers your questions.

        Harold

    • Bob Butler TGO
      Bob Butler TGO says:

      The political fight that your mayor has inserted himself in has been going on since 2005. The Crabtree Crossing project just barely, if at all, affects Cary, Cary doesn’t seem to care, however, when one of their projects potentially put hundreds more cars on Morrisville Carpenter Rd and thus affects the quality of life in Morrisville. To say that what Cary does doesn’t cause problems in nearby communities is just plain stupid.

      • Harold Weinbrecht
        Harold Weinbrecht says:

        Mr. Butler,

        On Crabtree Crossing there is the Prestonwood golf shack. That is the municipal border and where Cary begins. There are literally hundreds of homes that are on and just off of this road. MANY Cary citizens will be impacted. I am sorry if you don’t understand that.

        Please refrain from name calling if you want to continue dialog. Let’s be adults and have a civil conversation.

        Please understand that there is a purpose and reason for everything we do in Cary. And we do work with Morrisville very closely on issues that impact both of us.

        Analyzing and evaluating development proposals includes many factors: roads, schools, parks, traffic, transit, open space, environment, etc. These are all carefully considered when we look at projects. I can guarantee that is far from stupid.

        BTW, Cary and Morrisville councils met for over two hours last night to strengthen our relationships. We will continue to work together at all levels to do what’s best for both our communities. It makes no sense to harm one community for the benefit of the other. We ALL know and understand that. I am sorry you have a different perception.

        Harold

      • Bob Butler TGO
        Bob Butler TGO says:

        I don’t know where you got the idea that I was name calling. Maybe you should re-read my posts.

      • Bob Butler TGO
        Bob Butler TGO says:

        If you believe that people who use the Crabtree Crossing extension from Town Hall Dr will drive beyond Morrisville Parkway on CC with it’s multiple speed tables, you would be mistaken. They might do it one time but will instead turn left to SR54 or right to Davis Dr. to avoid the speed tables. So the impact to Cary residents will be minimal at worse.
        The 911 response time that is a concern has to do with traffic and not the call center as you well know.

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